HERMISTON — Vincent Wesley David Shermantine no longer faces a murder charge for the 2018 killing of Eric Navarrete of Hermiston.
Shermantine, 30, of Hermiston, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree robbery and unlawful use of a weapon, according to state court records.
The Umatilla County District Attorney’s office in April charged Shermantine with those two crimes plus murder and felon in possession of a weapon. Circuit Judge Dan Hill accepted the change of plea at his courtroom in Hermiston and remanded Shermantine to the custody of the sheriff’s office pending his sentencing.
The court also sealed the plea petition, and District Attorney Dan Primus said he did not want to talk about the plea while the case continues against Shermantine’s co-defendant, David Edgar Sommerville.
The state accused Shermantine and Sommerville of robbing Navarrete at gunpoint on June 4, 2018, and then Sommerville in the course of the crime shot and killed Navarrete.
Sommerville, 20, of Boardman, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, murder and aggravated murder, the only crime that carries the threat of the death penalty in Oregon.
Oregon has 29 men and one woman on death row, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections. The state’s last execution was May 16, 1997, with the lethal injection of Harry Charles Moore. The governor’s office in 2011 placed a moratorium on executions. Umatilla County has not had an aggravated murder case since 2015.
Jaclyn Jenkins, chief deputy district attorney, filed a notice on Aug. 3 the state will not seek the death penalty for Sommerville. The filing does provide an explanation.
The next hearing in the case is Tuesday, and the court set Nov. 5 for a settlement conference.
Pending that outcome, the case has an all-day hearing June 9, 2020, to consider motions about a month before the trial. Defense attorney Benjamin Kim asked for that hearing this past June when he notified the court he planned on filing a hefty demurrer or objection.
“I anticipate that the Demurrer filed will exceed 500 pages and will require significant time for the State to file a written response,” according to the notice. “While I believe the arguments set forth in the Demurrer are well founded in law, and without conceding the legal arguments contained therein, the Demurrer also preserves a series of arguments and objections in order to litigate the issues on a possible appeal.”